Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 13 July 2014

Girls tell of pressure to look good

Media pressure to look attractive is forcing many young girls to go on strict diets, a survey has found

The pressure to look attractive is a major preoccupation for young girls and has forced many to endure strict diets, a survey has revealed.

About half (47%) of a group of 1,200 girls said they found the emphasis placed on physical appearance the most negative aspect of being female, according to the survey commissioned by Girlguiding UK.

Last year the organisation found 42% of girls had been on strict diets and this year they were asked why - three quarters (75%) said it was to be attractive to others with 66% claiming it was because of the media portrayal of women.

Girlguiding UK last month launched a petition which called on the Government to introduce compulsory labelling on airbrushed pictures in magazines after a survey found many young girls involved with guiding were influenced by such images.

A group of 1,200 youngsters aged between seven and 21 across the country took part in the survey.

Girls from lower-performing schools were found to place more importance on being attractive compared with girls from higher-performing schools - 33% from lower-performing schools compared with 20% from higher-performing schools.

Being fit and active was selected by more than half (54%) of girls as an important factor in being successful in life.

The group also said that smoking and binge drinking were the two most serious health issues they faced today.

Cathy Fraser, Girlguiding UK spokeswoman and head of Girlguiding UK's youth panel Advocate, said: "Girls are telling us that the world they are living in can be extremely stressful, which leads to a range of unhealthy behaviours and outcomes.

"It is vital that we support girls and young women to develop their self-esteem and resilience so they can cope with it. By understanding the issues that girls and young women are facing we can support them to navigate these complex factors and become strong and confident members of society."

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